Improving water quality
The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) is a partner in the Australian and Queensland Government's joint commitment to a new Reef Water Quality Protection Plan (Reef Plan). It is an action plan to halt and reverse the decline in the quality of water flowing into the Great Barrier Reef.
Using the measures in the Reef Plan the governments will, by 2013, halve run-off of harmful nutrients and pesticides and ensure:
- 80 per cent of agricultural enterprises (sugar cane, horticulture, dairy, cotton and grains) adopt improved soil, nutrient and chemical management practices
- 50 per cent of grazing enterprises adopt improved pasture and land management
- There is no net loss or degradation of natural wetlands
- The condition and extent of riparian areas have been improved.
As progress is made the governments will evaluate what else is needed beyond 2013 to ensure catchment run-off has no negative impact on the Great Barrier Reef by 2020 at the latest.
Water quality guidelines
The GBRMPA has prepared Water Quality Guidelines for the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park (2010) for maintaining the health and resilience of the Great Barrier Reef.
These guidelines describe the concentrations of sediment, nutrients, and pesticides that are needed for the protection and maintenance of marine species and the Reef's ecosystem health.
Areas that are not covered in the guidelines default to the Queensland Water Quality Guidelines 2009 or the Australian and New Zealand Guidelines for Fresh & Marine Water Quality 2000.
Land-based facilities discharging sewage effluent directly into the Marine Park are managed under the Sewage Discharge Policy 2005 and the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Regulations 1983.
Vessel based sewage discharges must comply with regulations administered by the (GBRMPA) and those for Queensland coastal waters requirements.
Ship-sourced issues such as operational pollutants, discharge and disposal of waste, exchanges of ballast water, oil spills and potential anti-foulant paint effects are covered by various regulations, conventions and policies applied in the Great Barrier Reef.
Aquaculture facilities located within and next to the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park produce a range of marine and freshwater species including pearl and edible oysters, prawns and barramundi.
They must be approved by the GBRMPA, and are only allowed in some zones. The GBRMPA has prepared an Aquaculture Position Statement to guide people on what is covered in the assessment of aquaculture applications.
Traditionally, land-based aquaculture farms have often discharged high concentrations of suspended solids and nutrients into nearby waterways. However, this situation is improving with the use of new techniques such as settlement and bio-filtration ponds that contain algae, bivalves or fish in new and existing aquaculture farms. Discharges from aquaculture farms are now regulated to make sure they protect the water quality of local waterways and the Great Barrier Reef.
On 2 March 2005, the Commonwealth Minister for Environment and Heritage accredited Queensland law under the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park (Aquaculture) Regulations 2000. A statement of reasons is available for this decision. Based on this agreement, no permission from the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority is required for a land-based aquaculture facility to operate (that is any land-based aquaculture facility that discharges aquaculture waste to a waterway leading to the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park).
If you're heading out on the water, don't forget your free Zoning Map so you know where you can go and what you can do.
The Great Barrier Reef is a hive of activity. If you're lucky enough to see a humpback whale from May to September, make sure you keep a safe distance.
We're delighted to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park's World Heritage listing.
Visit our Great Barrier Reef and discover its amazing plants, animals and habitats. There are a range of tourism experiences on offer.
Everyone has a role to play in protecting our Great Barrier Reef. Find out what you can do to help protect this Great Australian icon.
If you see sick, dead or stranded marine animals please call RSPCA QLD 1300 ANIMAL
(1300 264 625)
A Vulnerability Assessment: of the issues that could have far-reaching consequences for the Great Barrier Reef.